Editor’s note: Looking Back reviews opinions published in The Spokesman-Review during this week in history.
March 21, 2006: In honor of Sunshine Week, which advocates for open government on all levels, we lead off with an S-R editorial that chastised a Spokane County engineer and deputy sheriff for telling a citizen he couldn’t videotape a public meeting on the widening of Bigelow Gulch. The editorial noted:
“In any representative government, officials ought to plead for citizen participation in settings for decision-making and information about public policy matters. The default position should be one of openness.”
It went on to note that “officials started with the assumption that they should and could prevent interested citizens from making a record of the public’s business. They did this based on inadequate knowledge that they didn’t confirm before acting.”
March 16, 1966: Voters approved two District 81 levies to add more money to the school operations budget. They turned down a measure that would’ve introduced kindergarten classes. Back then, such ballot issues needed 60 percent approval. Now it’s a simple majority. The kindergarten measure got 57 percent of the vote. An editorial noted:
“It is evident that the school board was wise in not including the kindergarten measure with the maintenance and operating levy. Had they done so, it is quite possible that everything would have gone down to defeat. The vote emphasized the critical nature of the decisions that the board must reach in deciding what to put on the ballot. If the voters are convinced good basic education is at stake, they generally respond favorably.”
Forty-three years later, in 2009, the state Legislature required full implementation of state-funded all-day (as opposed to half-day) kindergarten by the 2017-2018 school year. It is now considered a component of a basic education.
March 17, 1976: An editorial lamented the lack of momentum for recycling, given the shortage in raw materials. It noted that “junkyards continue to stack rejected appliance upon appliance, washing machines that have been through the wringer sit idly on back porches and refrigerators store dust in garages.”
It continued: “The incentives for recycling are abundantly clear. We have less space to throw our waste and we have less that can be turned into waste. Yet recycling continues to be set aside for a rainy day.”
March 14, 1986: The U.S. government offered safe passage for besieged Filipino strongman Ferdinand Marcos and his wife, Imelda. An editorial supported the move as long as the U.S. haven didn’t become a hideout for a couple that had amassed a scandalous fortune.
“Offering one-way plane rides to tottering, hated dictators is preferable by far to the alternative: prolonged bloodshed and political convulsions, which easily can overrun the political center and end in communist revolutions.”
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